The title of this book is somewhat misleading. It is ostensibly about all of the Kennedy men, but in reality it is largely about Joe Kennedy Snr and J...moreThe title of this book is somewhat misleading. It is ostensibly about all of the Kennedy men, but in reality it is largely about Joe Kennedy Snr and John F. Kennedy, with a healthy side-helping of Bobby and Joe Jnr, but Teddy gets fairly short shrift. And the fact that book ends with JFK's assassination in 1963, despite the fact that Joe Kennedy lived another six years, Bobby another five years and Teddy until 2009, is telling.
Bobby and Teddy's lives are very much written as an adjunct of their brother's - the book doesn't mention Teddy's Senate career at all after he has won his seat, and Bobby is only mentioned in his capacity as his brother's Attorney General. It's a shame, because they are both such interesting personalities in their own right, and it would have interesting to have some comparisons drawn between Teddy's early days and his later role at the Lion of the Senate.
That said, it's an excellent book, incredibly detailed and well-written, as the nearly thousand pages attest. As a bit of a Kennedy buff, there was little new here for me, but it would serve an excellent introductory biography to the Kennedy men. The level of detail about JFK's injuries and health was certainly impressive - I'm not sure which is more of a miracle, that with such poor health JFK ever managed to serve in WW2, campaign for and serve as a Congressman, Senator and President of the United States, or that he somehow managed to conceal such ill health and project such an image of youth and vitality.(less)
I've always had a thing for the Kennedys. I was a huge assassination buff in my teens and whilst I've grown out of that I'm still fascinated by the im...moreI've always had a thing for the Kennedys. I was a huge assassination buff in my teens and whilst I've grown out of that I'm still fascinated by the image of glamour and youth and excitement that they projected. I think America lost something the day JFK was assassinated and they've not got it back yet. But anyway, I digress. This is very good book, nothing earth-shattering or ground-breaking, but it focuses much more on Jack and Jackie's private life, their relationships with their friends, family and each other, than it does on the political side of things. It's not an obseqious read either - it doesn't gloss over JFK's infidelities, for example. It's perhaps longer than it needs to be and I could have done with less detail about Jackie's clothes, but you can't have everything, I suppose!(less)
This is a very very good book, insightful, thought-provoking, interesting and very moving. I found myself in tears at more than a few points. It's abo...moreThis is a very very good book, insightful, thought-provoking, interesting and very moving. I found myself in tears at more than a few points. It's about Jack and Bobby Kennedy and their relationship throughout 'the Kennedy years'. I have to confess, I've never thought much about Bobby over the years - my attention has always been on JFK and his assassination - but the way this book looked at Bobby broke my heart. Because Jack was his whole world, his primary focus - and when Jack was murdered Bobby was absolutely bereft. And then he pulled himself together, set about on a political career of his own and set out after the White House, all so he could continue his brother's legacy, and was then murdered himself. *sniffles* It just shouldn't have happened and it breaks my heart to think about what the US would have been like had they lived. And yes, I do think there was a conspiracy, and I blame the CIA.(less)
More Kennedy stuff. I'm in the mood. This book is actually drawn from a larger book, Bugliosi's 2,000 page Reclaiming History, which is a comprehensiv...moreMore Kennedy stuff. I'm in the mood. This book is actually drawn from a larger book, Bugliosi's 2,000 page Reclaiming History, which is a comprehensive study of the assassination and debunking of the various conspiracy theories. This book is a very in-depth narrative of the four days from the morning to the assassination to the funerals of JFK and Lee Harvey Oswald four days later. It's very readable, very dramatic and very precise, and I have to confess, it is persuasive. But I just don't believe Oswald acted alone. The only problem with these books dismissing the conspiracy theories is they do tend, just as the conspiracy theorists do, to be honest, to be selective with the evidence. Or perhaps I just don't want to believe? Who knows?(less)
I think Bobby would have been a good president, better than his brother, largely because Bobby cared. JFK was the life-long politician, whereas Bobby...moreI think Bobby would have been a good president, better than his brother, largely because Bobby cared. JFK was the life-long politician, whereas Bobby was more the crusading type, a reformer. I think Bobby would really have tried to make life better for the poor, the oppressed, the dispossessed, because he identified so strongly with them. I think he would have been a good president. This is a wonderful biography, very well-written and researched. It really shows Bobby at both his best and his worst - and it breaks my heart that he was killed just as he was really coming into his own, just as he was moving out from his brother's shadow and becoming as his own man, as he'd always wanted to be. His entire life, he'd been second or even third-best, behind his elder brothers, always subsuming his own desires to the will of the family, and even after JFK he believed that the crowds that came to see him weren't for him but 'for Jack'. It's a tragedy that just as he was starting to believe in himself, he was murdered. *sniffles*(less)
As with most books I tend to read about the Kennedys, this one broke my heart. It's a long book, and since it only deals with the four days from the s...moreAs with most books I tend to read about the Kennedys, this one broke my heart. It's a long book, and since it only deals with the four days from the start of the Dallas trip on 21st November through to the state funeral on 25th November, the level of detail is exhaustive. It's not an intrusive or ghoulish book - the author was personally asked by Jackie to write it, and the tone is very respectful. The last quarter of the book is where it really shines - the description of the preparations for and the passage of the funeral are just heartbreaking. Luckily, it was written before Bobby's assassination, because having that as a coda would probably have finished me off. As it was, there were numerous parts where I had to put the book down and walk away for a while.(less)
The title of this book refers to the Doomsday Clock, a symbolic clock which charts how close mankind is to global catastrophe, which is obviously 'mid...moreThe title of this book refers to the Doomsday Clock, a symbolic clock which charts how close mankind is to global catastrophe, which is obviously 'midnight'. The clock was never adjusted during the Cuban Missile Crisis, the events of which took place over too short a period for the clock to be 'officially' adjusted, but had it been one minute is probably a pretty accurate adjustment. This book takes an hour-by-hour overview of the thirteen days of the Missile Crisis, from the American, Soviet and Cuban viewpoints. It includes a lot of information that has only recently come to light, such as the Soviet tactical nuclear weapons that were aimed at Guantanamo Bay Naval Base or the American U-2 spy-plane that got lost during a routine mission over the North Pole and strayed in Soviet airspace right at the height of the confrontation. It's a very good book, and the hour-by-hour format really makes you appreciate the tension of the major players and how close things came. Dobbs also makes you realise, by charting not just the actions of Kennedy and Khrushchev, but the soldiers and civilians on the ground, how much of an illusion control is and how easily things could have spiralled beyond retreat or redemption. (less)